By Rachel Hogue
I don’t usually like to toot my own horn (that’s a lie, I actually do), but you’d better hold your ears because I’m about to honk.
If you were to ask anyone who knows me to list their top five most positive people, I’m willing to bet I would make that list. At the high school where I teach, my chemistry-teaching neighbor refers to me as “Sunshine,” and the kicker is that everyone knows to whom he is referring. In my family, I’m known as the cheerleader. And, more than once in my life, I have been called “a breath of fresh air.”
Why am I telling you this, you ask? To boost my ego or blow wind up my skirt?
Nay, friend. I’m telling you so as to dispel the myth that people who are genuinely happy and positive have easier lives than their counterparts. By counterparts, I don’t mean grumpy old curmudgeons, I mean everyday people who are dissatisfied and unhappy with life.
I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called “Happy” and was surprised to learn that, once basic needs are met—food, clothing, and shelter—happiness is no different for people who earn $40,000 annually than for people who earn $400,000 annually.
So, why are some people happier than others? It’s not because happier people have easier lives or don’t experience animosity. I have had periods in my life where it hurt to breathe because I was so sad. I lost two pregnancies—one with twins. I went through a period of time when I was angry, tormented, and damaged. I saw each one of those little heartbeats on the ultrasound and loved each one of those precious souls. I felt alone—no one knew them like I knew them. To others, the babies were just a thought; to me they were living beings that my own body rejected. I felt angry. If God is sovereign, why did He “allow” this to happen? Why were teenagers on drugs having healthy babies while my husband and I, who could take care of a child both financially and emotionally, childless?
I grieved, cussed, cried, and yelled. And then, an odd thing happened. I found peace. Comfort returned like a long-lost friend, and we spent hours catching up.
The question remains, why are some people happy and positive? My answer is…trampolines.
Bear with me on this…
Being happy and positive is the result of the bounce-back effect. When I am experiencing tragedy, I let myself feel it. I sit down, reflect, and let the pain settle in. Once I am able to feel the pain and travel through the darkness, I’m able to welcome genuine happiness back, but not before I make that trip.
As intense as pain is, joy matches and exceeds it. It’s hard, if not impossible, to experience true joy without also feeling the sting of sadness.
My friends, if you want true peace and if you desire complete happiness, think of yourself as a well-loved trampoline with worn out springs.
Bounce back from unhappiness and events in your life that threaten to steal your joy. As you descend, always look up above the net. Know that the soaring will come after the descent. Know that you are not alone. Descend through the darkness, go directly to your sadness, and punch it square in the face. Then soar. And keep bouncing back until you are in the soft glow of peace.